From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Turtledove (American Empire, etc.) buckles a handsome Elizabethan swash with his latest fascinating what if: suppose the Spanish Armada had beaten the Virgin Queen's little navy and reimposed on England the fanatic Roman Catholicism of Bloody Mary Tudor and her ruthless husband, Philip II of Spain. For almost a decade, the English have chafed under Philip's daughter Isabella and her Austrian consort, as well as the Inquisition, enforced by arrogant dons, their hired-gun Irish gallowglasses (rumored to be cannibals) and English Catholic sympathizers. Good Queen Bess languishes in the Tower of London while her supporters plot rebellion-to be sparked by no less than a patriotic new play by Will Shakespeare, Turtledove's lovingly drawn hero, who's drawn willy-nilly into the conspiracy by Elizabeth's former minister, Lord Burghley. The author revels in complex turns of language and spouts brilliant adaptations of the real Shakespeare's immortal lines. Superbly realized historical figures include the "darkly handsome," doomed Kit Marlowe and the Machiavellian Robert Cecil. Equally engaging are such lesser characters as the "cunning woman" Cicely Sellis, who "thinks of England." Turtledove has woven an intricate and thoroughly engrossing portrait of an era, a theatrical tradition, a heroic band of English brothers and their sneering overlords. O, brave alternative world that has such people in't!
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Will Shakespeare, actor and author of popular plays, becomes embroiled in treason when English noblemen pressure him to write a play calculated to stir the people to rebellion. Meanwhile, Lope de Vega, a Don Juanish Spanish playwright, is under orders to sniff out treason and heresy, and he commands Will to write a play praising the Spanish monarch. What ensues is a suspenseful and fascinating tale of intrigue, loyalty and betrayal, and cultural conflict. Caught between two masters, Shakespeare can do nothing less than his best work for both-even though his lively imagination and inquiring intelligence constantly cause him personal and ethical challenges. The details of daily life and characters who reflect the cultural attitudes of a different time draw readers in. But more than that, the plot, people, and narrative devices would be comfortable in any of the Bard's plays: clowns and jesters, high and low comedy, a twin motif, and, perhaps most important, the dialogue-they all have a convincing Shakespearean ring. This complex tour de force brings his work and times to life, and readers who are carried along will feel, like the hero in the end, well rewarded and well satisfied.Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.